Op-Ed

Harvard Business School faculty speak out on concerns that impact business and management. These opinion pieces and editorials discuss pressing issues faced by society in general and business managers in particular.

59 Results

 

The ABCs of Addressing Climate Change (From a Business Perspective)

How can business leaders cut through the noise and actively address climate change from an economic perspective? John Macomber proposes a list of ABCs. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Stop Thinking of Climate Change as a Religious or Political Issue

Private and public innovation around cleaning up our environment will be motivated only if prices reflect the true state of the world, says Forest Reinhardt. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Tackling Climate Change Will Cost Less Than We Think

Yes, addressing climate change will be expensive, but not nearly as much as the costs of delaying action, argues Rebecca Henderson. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

The Climate Needs Aggressive CEO Leadership

History will judge CEOs not just on their stewardship of firm growth, but also on whether they effectively used their clout to address one of the greatest societal challenges of our time, say Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Take a Trim Tab Approach to Climate Change

Often depicted as greedy and shortsighted, business leaders face a crucial opportunity on the issue of climate change to change that perception, says Amy Edmondson. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

We Need a Miracle. New Nuclear Might Provide it.

New nuclear power technology could be the miracle we need to combat dangerous carbon emissions, says Joe Lassiter. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Online Banks Fill Funding Needs for Small Business

In the final column on small business lending, Karen Mills is optimistic that the rise of alternative online banks can fund entrepreneurial business growth. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Government Can Do More to Unfreeze Small Business Credit

In part three of her series on the state of small-business lending, Karen Mills discusses how public-private partnerships and government guarantee programs have the potential to enhance economic growth. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Family Businesses Need Entrepreneurs for Long-Run Success

Families that want to stay in business for generations don't have a choice but to encourage entrepreneurship in and out of their family company, say Michael Roberts and John Davis. Here's how. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Why Small-Business Lending Is Not Recovering

Lending to small businesses has not returned to levels seen before the financial crisis. Karen Mills, former head of the US Small Business Administration, explains the reasons and why the situation is not likely to improve anytime soon. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Reform Tax Law to Keep US Firms at Home

The flood of US corporations relocating to other countries is a hot topic in Congress. In recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, Mihir Desai provided possible solutions around rethinking corporate tax and regulatory policy. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Fixing the ‘I Hate Work’ Blues

Many employees report they are overworked and not engaged—a recent New York Times article on the phenomenon was titled, "Why You Hate Work." The problem, says Bill George, is that the way we design work stifles engagement. Here's the fix. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Facebook’s Future

Today, we follow Facebook and update friends on our doings. In the not too distant future, predicts Mikolaj Piskorski, Facebook will follow us and call half the planet customers. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Encourage Breakthrough Health Care by Competing on Products Rather Than Patents

For too long, the science behind breakthrough therapeutics has been locked behind patents held by universities. Richard Hamermesh proposes the market compete on solutions rather than intellectual property rights. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Response to Readers: Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Following a contentious online debate, Professor Joe Lassiter expands his argument that nuclear power and fracking are the lesser evils when stacked up against coal power, and presents a way forward. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

A Roadmap for Afghanistan’s Economic Future

Most discussions about the immediate future of Afghanistan center on security. A consideration just as important, says Professor Tarun Khanna, is rebuilding the embattled country's economy. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

How to Do Away with the Dangers of Outsourcing

The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh should be a warning to companies that embrace outsourcing, says Professor Ranjay Gulati. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Corporate Leaders Need to Step Up on Climate Change

Despite perceptions that sustainable business efforts are progressing, the environment reminds us we're failing to deal with the problem sufficiently. Here's what business leaders must do next, according to Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Making America an Industrial Powerhouse Again

President Obama's funding of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation is a needed step to get the country building again, says Professor Gary Pisano. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Finding the Right Jeremy Lin Storyline

New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin is confounding every stereotype we have about modern day basketball stars. Professor Lakshmi Ramarajan suggests that Lin's complex storylines can help us put our own prejudices in focus. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Nitin Nohria: Why US Competitiveness Matters

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria discusses the multidimensional quality of the American competitiveness problem, and why it matters to all. Read More

Occupy Wall Street Protestors Have a Point

The concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement are not far different from what business leaders have told professors Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Once a Castle, Home is Now a Debtors’ Prison

Forget the notion of the home as "castle." Twenty-two percent of Americans owe more on their mortgages than the value of their homes. Nicolas P. Retsinas offers ideas for how these "debtors' prisons" can be turned into productive housing. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Where Green Corporate Ratings Fail

Many companies receiving high marks in environmental sustainability are hurting the planet in other ways, write professor Michael Toffel and executive Auden Schendler. Here's where green rankings fall short. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Leading and Lagging Countries in Contributing to a Sustainable Society

To determine the extent to which corporate and investor behavior is changing to contribute to a more sustainable society, researchers Robert Eccles and George Serafeim analyzed data involving over 2,000 companies in 23 countries. One result: a ranking of countries based on the degree to which their companies integrate environmental and social discussions and metrics in their financial disclosures. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

While Waiting for Japan’s Recovery, Let’s Enhance Supplier Competitiveness at Home

The Obama administration and US companies do not have to wait for Japanese suppliers to recover from earthquake damage, argues Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Action can be taken now to ensure that America invests in growing our domestic stock of world-class suppliers. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty Comment on Environmental Issues for Earth Day

Harvard Business School faculty members offer their views on the many business facets of "going green." Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

What’s Government’s Role in Regulating Home Purchase Financing?

The Obama administration recently proposed housing finance reforms to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bring private capital back to the mortgage markets. HBS professor David Scharfstein and doctoral student Adi Sunderam put forth a proposal to replace Fannie and Freddie and ensure a more stable supply of housing finance. Read More

Funding Unpredictability Around Stem-Cell Research Inflicts Heavy Cost on Scientific Progress

Funding unpredictability in human embryonic stem-cell research inflicts a heavy cost on all scientific progress, says professor William Sahlman. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Tax US Companies to Spur Spending

With traditional monetary and fiscal policy instruments to stimulate the economy seemingly exhausted, professor Mihir Desai offers a radical proposal: Use taxes to motivate corporations to spend a trillion dollars in cash. Open for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Export Competitiveness: Reversing the Logic

While the economic crisis has caused countries to revisit growth strategies, it has also raised serious concerns about whether the traditional strategy of export-led growth is producing the right answer. Harvard Business School's Christian Ketels argues that the focus of debate now needs to be on the actual policies that can increase competitiveness rather than exports per se. Read More

Diagnosing the Public Health Care Alternative

With deep experience in health insurance reform, HBS faculty describe how improved competition in insurance plans could improve value for patients. Professors Regina E. Herzlinger, Robert Huckman, and Michael E. Porter take the pulse of a debate. Read More

GM: What Went Wrong and What’s Next

For decades, General Motors reigned as the king of automakers. What went wrong? We asked HBS faculty to reflect on the wrong turns and missed opportunities of the former industry leader, and to suggest ideas for recovery. Read More

Credit is Not the Bogey

"As we attempt to jump-start the economy of 2009, we should recognize both the risks and the advantages inherent in a robust credit industry," write HBS lecturer Nicolas P. Retsinas and Eric S. Belsky. The director and executive director, respectively, of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, they offer a prescription for making credit neither too easy nor too hard to get. Read More

Selling Out The American Dream

The American Dream has been transformed from an embodiment of the country's core values into a crass appeal to materialism and easy gratification. One result: the current economic crisis, says professor John Quelch. The federal government isn't helping. Read More

The Time is Right for Creative Capitalism

Bill Gates has it right. Business is the most powerful force for change in the world right now and gives the idea of creative capitalism real power, writes Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn. Read More

Google-Yahoo Ad Deal is Bad for Online Advertising

A proposed advertising deal between Internet competitors Google and Yahoo would reduce competitiveness in the Internet advertising market, likely resulting in higher advertising rates, says Harvard Business School professor Benjamin G. Edelman. Read More

Why the U.S. Should Encourage FDI

American financial executives are courting foreign direct investors, particularly sovereign wealth funds, for new investments. Should these investments draw increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators? Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai argues that most of these deals work out in America's best financial interest. Read More

What Should Employers Do about Health Care?

Companies that cut health care costs without improving the overall value of care eventually pay a price in terms of employee absenteeism and chronic ailments. According to Harvard University professor and strategy expert Michael E. Porter and coauthors, the best way to truly reduce health care costs is to improve quality. Read More

The Gap in the U.S. Treasury Recommendations

U.S. Treasury recommendations for strengthening the regulation of the financial system are a good start but fall short, says Harvard Business School professor emeritus Dwight B. Crane. Here's his suggestion for bringing regulation into the 21st century. Read More

A House Divided: Investment or Shelter?

For decades Americans viewed their homes as a safe harbor, a place to put down roots. But the last decade saw the rise of housing as an investment opportunity. What comes next? asks Harvard Business School professor Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Read More

3 Steps to Reduce Financial System Risk

By using complex derivative products, banks are better able to manage risk. But this "credit risk transfer" technology is transferring risk to a new set of investors inexperienced in this arena and posing exposure problems for the international financial system as a whole, argues Harvard Business School professor Mohamed El-Erian. Here's how to fix the problem. Read More

Company Town: Fixing Corrupt Governments

Too many democracies are ruled by corrupt leaders, says HBS professor Eric Werker. So how about letting good corporate citizens run for elected office in Third World regions? Read More

Leveling the Executive Options Playing Field

Harvard Business School professor Mihir A. Desai recently presented testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee looking at the subject of executive stock options. His theme: A "dual-reporting system" makes it difficult for investors and tax authorities to learn the real numbers. Read More

Government’s Misguided Probe of Private Equity

The U.S Department of Justice has begun an inquiry into potentially anti-competitive behavior on the part of leading private equity firms. Professor Josh Lerner looks to history to underscore why this move carries the prospect of damaging what is actually an incredibly competitive industry that creates much value. Read More

What a U.N. Partnership with Big Business Could Accomplish

If the world's large corporations really are the greatest drivers of wealth creation, it only seems reasonable that their capabilities and resources can be focused on global poverty, says professor emeritus George C. Lodge. Here's the case for a partnership between business, the United Nations, and NGOs. Read More

Tata-Corus: India’s New Steel Giant

By acquiring Anglo-Dutch steel firm Corus, India's Tata Steel is now one of the world's top five steel makers. Professor Tarun Khanna says the fact that the deal is the largest out of India and generated by the private sector makes this a notable event. But now comes the hard part—making the merger work. Can Tata avoid mistakes made by Chinese companies? From The Economic Times/India Times. Read More

Learning from Private-Equity Boards

Boards of professionally sponsored buyouts are more informed, hands-on, and interventionist than public company boards. HBS professor emeritus Malcolm S. Salter argues that this board model could have helped Enron—and perhaps your company as well. Read More

India Needs to Encourage Trade with China

Although India and China have increased bilateral trade over the last five years, the amount is far less than what would be expected. Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna says India has primarily itself to blame. From The Economic Times. Read More

Rising CEO Pay: What Directors Should Do

Compensation committees are under pressure to keep CEO pay high, even as shareholders and the media agitate for moderation. The solution? Boards of directors need better competitive information and an ear to what shareholders are saying, says Jay Lorsch. Read More

The Compensation Game

Do CEOs deserve "star" compensation? The idea that CEO pay is driven by the invisible hand of market forces is a myth from which chief executives have long benefited, say Harvard professors Lucian Bebchuk and Rakesh Khurana. Read More

The Real Wal-Mart Effect

Critics are lining up to take shots at Wal-Mart's treatment of workers and a host of other alleged knocks against society. But the critics miss one big point, says Pankaj Ghemawat: Wal-Mart's overall impact benefits the economy and lower-income consumers. Read More

Enron Jury Sent the Right Message

Although the actions of Enron's executives were in many areas neither clearly legal nor illegal, jurors sent an unambiguous message that all executives should heed: Truth telling and ethical discipline are the cornerstone values in corporate governance. Read More

The Case for Consumer-Driven Medicaid

The Medicaid program is a health insurance safety net for 52 million Americans, but the price tag threatens the financial stability of the states. Regina Herzlinger looks to South Carolina for a model in consumer-driven healthcare. Read More

Corporate Governance Activists are Headed in the Wrong Direction

Corporate governance reformers are pushing the idea of majority voting for directors. But that solution, as Joseph Hinsey sees it, won't produce the desired outcome. The answer? Keep CEOs and board chairs separate. Read More

Is Business Management a Profession?

If management was a licensed profession on a par with law or medicine, there might be fewer opportunities for corporate bad guys, argue HBS professors Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria, and research associate Daniel Penrice. Read More

Using Big Business to Fight Poverty

Can an international alliance of global corporations win a war on poverty? Yes, if such an alliance is well planned and formed soon, according to HBS professor emeritus George C. Lodge. Read More

A Cure for Enron-Style Audit Failures

In an opinion piece in the Financial Times, Harvard Business School professor Jay Lorsch argues for legislation to create an independent, self-regulatory organization to oversee accounting firms. Enron, he says, is not an isolated incident. Read More

Why Corporate Budgeting Needs To Be Fixed

Not to mince words, but corporate budgeting is a joke, argues HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen in this Harvard Business Review excerpt. The problem isn't with the budget process—it's when budget targets are used to determine compensation. Read More